Jeroboam’s Kingdom of Envy


or Worship-styles of the Bitter and Twisted

Under Rehoboam, Solomon’s kingdom became even more like Egypt. Solomon had imposed greater taxes upon his people than were appropriate, and his son Rehoboam took this to the extreme. So the Lord brought about a new Exodus, with Jeroboam as a kind of Moses. David felt guilty for cutting the corner off Saul’s robe — ie. grasping at Saul’s symbol of office — but to Jeroboam the prophet gave ten of the twelve pieces of his robe, the ten northern tribes.

Jeroboam was given the same blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience as are all Adams promised a kingdom, but he turned it into a kingdom of envy. The northern tribes envied the worship in Jerusalem, so, like Aaron, he appeased the people with golden calves. He even named his two sons after the sons of Aaron whom the Lord incinerated for offering strange fire. It was harlotrous worship.

Our worship is now centred in heaven, so churches founded after a split have no real reason to envy. Still, we manage it. If a new church is founded because the old church is apostate, is it characterised by an emancipated love for God, or is it twisted into greater bondage by a bitterness towards those who lorded it over us, making our escape from Pharaoh into a blind alley wilderness graveyard.

In the wilderness, faithful saints shine like the sun, moon and stars. In the wilderness, those who commit harlotry have their bones spread beneath the sun, moon and stars whom they worshipped (Jer. 8).

As usual, the Lord waited a generation, giving Jeroboam a chance to repent. Eventually, his altar was defiled with bones. Judah, the “originating church”, did not learn from the fate of the Northern Kingdom under Assyria, and even the “official worship” was defiled by God.

Worship is not a competition.

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